“Following British Prime Minister Theresa May’s meddlesome remarks at the summit of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council, Nicholas Hopton, the country’s ambassador to Tehran, was summoned to the Foreign Ministry today,” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Saturday.
He added that the deputy director general for West Europe affairs at the Iranian Foreign Ministry expressed Tehran’s strong protest at the prime minister’s “thoughtless remarks.”
Speaking at the annual summit of the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council in the Bahraini capital of Manama on Wednesday, May said Britain would help the GCC states “push back” against what she claimed to be Iran’s “aggressive regional actions.”
The British premier also said that her country wanted to “make a more permanent and more enduring commitment to the long-term security” of the Persian Gulf and would invest almost four billion dollars in defense spending in the region over the next 10 years.
Qassemi said the Iranian Foreign Ministry official emphasized that May’s “irresponsible, provocative and divisive” comments at the regional annual summit were “unacceptable and rejected.”
Iran seriously expects Britain to avoid repeating such unacceptable remarks in the future, he added.
The spokesperson said the Iranian official told the British diplomat that such measures are in contradiction with the expansion of relations and would harm Tehran-London ties.
He said the British ambassador was also told that Iran’s regional policy was based on the establishment of peace, stability and security as well as the fight against terrorism.
During the meeting, it was announced that at a time that the policy of certain regional countries in supporting terrorism was clear, it was regrettable and astonishing that the British prime minister had overlooked the truth, Qassemi added.
Hopton, for his part, said London’s policy was to improve relations with Tehran and added that he would immediately inform his country of Iran’s message.
Britain reopened its embassy in Tehran in August 2015 as a sign of the improvement of mutual ties between the two countries.
The European country had shut down its embassy in Tehran in November 2011, withdrawing its diplomatic staff after hundreds of Iranian students staged a protest outside the British embassy in Tehran against the expansion of UK sanctions on Iran, pulling down the UK flag and demanding the expulsion of the British ambassador.
In late November 2011, Iran’s Parliament approved a bill to downgrade the diplomatic ties between Tehran and London to the level of chargé d’affaires, and limit all economic and cultural collaborations to the minimum level.
Iran and Britain upgraded their ties back to the ambassador level in September, in another sign of warming relations between the two countries.